Review: Thermal water resources in carbonate rock aquifers


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Hydrogeology Journal

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The current knowledge on thermal water resources in carbonate rock aquifers is presented in this review, which also discusses geochemical processes that create reservoir porosity and different types of utilisations of these resources such as thermal baths, geothermal energy and carbon dioxide (CO2) sequestration. Carbonate aquifers probably constitute the most important thermal water resources outside of volcanic areas. Several processes contribute to the creation of porosity, summarised under the term hypogenic (or hypogene) speleogenesis, including retrograde calcite solubility, mixing corrosion induced by cross-formational flow, and dissolution by geogenic acids from deep sources. Thermal and mineral waters from karst aquifers supply spas all over the world such as the famous bath in Budapest, Hungary. Geothermal installations use these resources for electricity production, district heating or other purposes, with low CO2 emissions and land consumption, e.g. Germany’s largest geothermal power plant at Unterhaching near Munich. Regional fault and fracture zones are often the most productive zones, but are sometimes difficult to locate, resulting in a relatively high exploration uncertainty. Geothermal installations in deep carbonate rocks could also be used for CO2 sequestration (carbonate dissolution would partly neutralise this gas and increase reservoir porosity). The use of geothermal installations to this end should be further investigated.

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